How did a little girl from Chattanooga end up in a refugee detention camp in Syria?

a group of people standing in front of a crowd
courtesy Washington Examiner

Kurdish authorities in Syria transferred six Americans, 2 American women and 4 American children, to the U.S. after several thousand foreigners were captured on the battlefield back in May and June of 2021. Syria did not reveal the identities of the Americans but said they had been handed over in response to a request from the U.S. government. U.S. officials refuse to respond.

The idea that adopted and foster children are not sold is absurd. Many social workers from the Department of Children and Family Services make fun of parents and call them “conspiracy theorists”. Judges all over the United States jail parents and extended family members for speaking out about the rouge fostercare system that has become nothing more than an adoption agency with the goal of selling children.

Family, children, parent, and grandparent advocates made a little progress to stop that when the Family First Preventative Services Act was signed into law in 2018. States are still bewildered as to how to implement policies and procedures to work with biological families instead of against them.

Psychiatrists label the children that are taken into custody with coping disorders and prescribe psychotropic medications “to help them cope”. Parents are labeled “delusional” usually after their children are taken into custody and and they are jailed for some absurd charge. Countless parents are jailed because of something they said, not because an actual crime was committed.

Aminah’s case brings about several questions. Why did the mother convert from Christianity to ISIS? Why did she leave her child with the Somali stepmother? What made the mother vulnerable to an arranged marriage?

Orphaned children have it pretty tough in the United States. Children are not protected and cared for as the states would have the general public to believe. Instead, children that need help are often left in terrible situations at home and sometimes caseworkers even admit that the children “are not adoptable”, meaning they cannot find a placement that is willing to give them the care that they need. On the other hand, children are often taken into custody under the term of neglect which usually means that the parents did not have the resources that are required to care for children. Most of those children can be sold through the adoption agency disguised as child protective services.

Cults are a growing problem in the United States probably because the government has destroyed so many people and their families through the efforts of the Department of Health and the Department of Corrections. Government systems strain even the strongest and financially set families. Poorer less educated families are much easier to destroy.

Churches have also turned their backs on people and their families that need support. Police allowed offending priests to walk away free for decades. The modest number of 1,000 victims the Pennsylvania grand jury recounted suffer emotional, mental, and physical complications caused by the abuse that follows them throughout their lives. When abuse happens there is a ripple effect that not only influences that abused person’s life, it also affects relationships, work, and parenting.

People have become desperate to be understood and feel uncared for. If family ties are severed, they often have no support systems in place, no one to reach out to for emotional, mental, physical, and financial support. That population of people often end up homeless or turn to teachings of religious leaders, and often even become vulnerable followers of cult leaders. There is no doubt that there are many false prophets in the world though every religion defines them differently.

A Somali jihadist stepmother kept Aminah, an American girl that was born to Ariel Bradley, a woman from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who was raised as an Evangelical Christian before converting to Islam and marrying a jihadist and moving to Syria. The Somali stepmother kept the girl hidden from the United States’s Kurdish allies. The 8-year-old orphaned girl ended up growing up in an ISIS refugee camp and was later rescued. So how did a little girl from Chattanooga end up in a refugee detention camp in Syria?

In August of 2021 Brady Knox of the Wall Street Journal reported that the girl was rescued from the detention camp in July. Buzzfeed reported that Aminah’s plight was relayed by a former ISIS bride in Canada, who had been a friend of Bradley’s, to former U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith, now an adviser for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism.

Peter Galbraith works to repatriate ISIS families who are U.S. citizens. He used his connections to identify and recover Aminah, who is now in a secure location in northeastern Syria. U.S. policy for repatriation involves a DNA test to ensure that an individual is a U.S. citizen and Kurdish forces have repatriated several ISIS-affiliated U.S. citizens upon the request of the government, but U.S. officials refuse to comment on Aminah’s case.  In 2015, Buzzfeed reported;

“Aminah’s mother settled with a Swedish Muslim in 2011 through an arranged marriage and moved to Sweden with him after a few months of Whatsapp and Skype calls”.

Ariel Bradley moved back to Chattanooga to give birth to Aminah in 2012, then moved into ISIS-held territory in 2014. Despite previously identifying as a socialist, activist, and feminist, Bradley fully adopted the radical beliefs of ISIS. In a tweet from her now-deleted account , Bradley praised the 2015 Chattanooga shooting by an Islamic terrorist, writing, “Gifted this morning not only with Eid but w/ the news of a brother puttin fear n the heart of kufar [non-believers] n the city of my birth. Alhamdullilah [thanks be to God].”

Bradley had another son with her husband while in the caliphate, but her spouse died in June 2015. She then became one of several wives of a prominent ISIS fighter, a former pediatrician from Australia, with whom she had another son, according to a Canadian ISIS bride who knew her personally . Bradley was killed along with her youngest son in a coalition airstrike on a hospital in 2018.

Aminah was put under the protection of one of her former husband’s other wives, a Somali woman, who is still devoted to ISIS. After the fall of the caliphate, Aminah and her caretaker ended up in one of several large Kurdish detention camps for ISIS families.

As of last year, the Middle East Institute reported that 80,000 ISIS men, women, and children reside in dozens of these camps across Iraq and Syria as the international community figured out what to do with them. Aminah resided in the largest of these, al-Hol in Syria, which contains approximately 68,000 people, almost two-thirds of whom are children.

The conditions in the overcrowded detention camps, such as al-Hol, have been derided by Letta Taylor of Human Rights Watch as “another Guantanamo.” Poor sanitation, lack of proper medical care, and abuse by guards are common. Aminah’s caretaker covered her in a niqab in order to avoid suspicion from the Kurdish guards because, according to Bradley’s Canadian friend, “Foreigners are often subject to harsher treatment than Syrian or Iraqi fighters”.

Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups, “Hearts and Minds” in each state. The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We cannot give legal advice, but we can try and direct you in the right direction with your case. Links to legal services are listed with their states. Please share and let’s grow our groups. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page. Thank you.

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